United States Organization for Mycoplasmology

The USOM is local branch of the International Organization for Mycoplasmology dedicated to the study of Mollicutes. USOM members work in industry, government, academe, and research institutes 

Mycoplasmas

 

Members of the class Mollicutes are very unusual bacteria, most notably because they do not have a cell wall. They are obligate parasites, and often cause chronic inflammatory diseases in their respective hosts. Mycoplasma species cause devastating diseases of production animals resulting in a loss of food security, and are among the most common causes of community-acquired pneumonia and nongonococcal urethritis in humans.

 

Because of their minimalist lifestyle, mycoplasmas make outstanding conceptual models, and have been featured in some truly groundbreaking moments in biological research!  From one of the earliest complete genome sequences, to the minimal genome concept, to mechanistic understanding of antigenic variation, to infectious causes of asthma, to modeling emerging infectious diseases, to the first synthetic cell, mycoplasmas are often at the forefront of advances in biological science.

Regulated/Reportable Diseases

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Scientists have built a bacterial genome from scratch and used it to 'reboot' a cell from a different species of bacterium.

 

Alla Katsnelson in Nature News

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Mycoplasma pneumoniae, the agent of 'walking pneumonia' in humans [Image: Waites and Talkington, 2004]

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If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture. Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people.

 

Bill Gates, speaking on funding for diseases such as contagious bovine pleuropneumonia caused by Mycoplasma mycoides.

Livestock Diseases

The following animal diseases are listed as reportable by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE):
  • Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides*)
  • Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (Mycoplasma capricolum subsp. capripneumoniae*)
  • Avian Mycoplasmosis (Mycoplasma gallisepticumMycoplasma synoviae)
  • Contagious Agalactia (Mycoplasma capricolum subsp. capricolum**; Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. capri**;  Mycoplasma agalactiae; Mycoplasma yeatsii)  
 

Human Diseases

No human mycoplasmosis has mandatory reporting at this time. However, specific diagnosis and reporting to state departments of public health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraged. The United States' only accredited human mycoplasmology lab at UAB can accept samples for diagnostic testing, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, and strain typing from anywhere in the United States. Contact by phone or email for submission details.

 

Plant Diseases

  • Apple Proliferation Disease ('Candidatus Phytoplasma mali')

  • Stone Fruit Yellows ('Candidatus Phytoplasma prunorum')

  • Grapevine flavescence

*Notifiable; organism is on the US Select Agent list

**Notifiable; organism is highly regulated and BSL-3 containment is required

 

What Do I Do upon Suspicion of a Case?

A mammoth effort has produced a complete computational model of the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium, opening the door for biological computer-aided design.

 

Max McClure in Stanford News

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Mycoplasma pneumoniae biofilm towers, visualized at at a 50-degree angle (Image: M. Feng, S. Distelhorst, and M. Balish, Miami University, Oxford, OH). Biofilm disaggregating compounds represent a novel strategy in the treatment of chronic infections.

 

USOM is a local branch of the IOM

Schematic representation of Mycoplasma pneumoniae based on simultaneous  transcriptomic, proteomic, and tomography studies in one of the first complete "systems biology" reports [Image: Kuhner et al., 2009]

Septic joint in a chicken with avian mycoplasmosis due to Mycoplasma synoviae  [Image: Ferguson-Noel 2010]

Chest X-ray indicating "walking pneumonia" caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae, in a human [Image: Lukesh Guglani]

House finch conjunctivitis caused by Mycoplasma gallisepticum following a host jump from poultry serves as an excellent model for studying emerging infectious diseases [Image:Ley et al., 1997]

A colony of  Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. capri  JCVIsyn1.0, the world's first synthetically  created organism [Image: Gibson et al., 2010]

Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, a feature of porcine respiratory disease complex, attaching to swine cilia to establish infection 

[Image: F. C. Minion]

Ribosomal phylogram  representing all 3 domains of life.  The class Mollicutes (indicated) show the deepest branches, and appear to be among the most rapidly evolving living things [Image: M. May, via iTOL]

Scanning electron microscopy images of  Mycoplasma amphoriforme in process of dividing, as indicated by multiple attachment organelles 

 [Image: Hatchel et al., 2006]